Terrific Turner Takes Lions Into Semi
Teesside Lions returned from the long treck to Bristol as 21pt winners in the quarter final of the playoffs to set the stage for a semi final visit to St Helens after the Merseyside team beat Lions neighbours Tees Valley Mohawks by 30pts.
Lions cause was made all the more difficult in Bristol after some devastating calls led to the ejection of key forward Siman Stewart in the first five minutes. The player was called for a questionable unsportsmanlike foul and then a few minutes later given a technical foul for questioning a decision. The decisions were beyond belief for the visitors and the pattern of strange calls would continue for the remainder of the game.
Teesside had to galvanise after finding themselves trailing the entire first quarter and with 6’8 Stewart unable to feature Lions centre Theo Turner had a job on his hands against the two tallest players in the league.
It’s not often that 7 foot Turner is made to look small, but against 7’1 Solomon Wills and the gigantic 7’4 Mike Lewis, the Teesside star was made to look ordinary. That is until the game began.
Turner’s first play was blocked by Lewis, but when Stewart was ejected the Lions captain took on the mantle and levelled up. Lions were down by 8pts and with officials’ decisions seemingly going against them, a hero was required to spark hope that even without the injured Ross Wilson, Alex Root & Gregor Gray who are three starting players, and despite the calls or the ejection of another starter that somehow, some way must be found to rescue the game.
At the start of the second quarter, Lions were down 21-13, but by half time a stunning period for Teesside would see them not only reverse the deficit but rise above all that was going wrong in a show of resilience that was nothing short of remarkable. Turner with 10pts in this period was the catalyst of a 15-30 scoring quarter in favour of the Lions. He had support from Carl Alexander who hit 9pts and Matt Hughes who hit his seventh point as Lions went into half time leading by 7pts, 36-43.
The game was far from over and Bristol star Chris Taylor was a constant threat while Aiden Khan and Jordan Nicholls were also players that must be contained.
In the third quarter the game was more balanced but Lions maintained an aura of assurance as Turner continued to dominate affairs at both ends of the court and in the third minute a powerful one handed dunk exclamated Lions and his own determination.
Jack Wilson was another Lion making a difference, especially with his rebounding and assists contribution. Thomas Wylie was also giving his all despite a strong elbow to the head in the first half. At the end of the third quarter Lions extended their lead slightly to 53-62.
In the fourth quarter Teesside again raised their game and through good team play took the quarter 16-28 on the way to securing the game with a 21pt margin, 69-90.
Matt Hughes was yet again instrumental as he finished with a 19pt & 10 rebound double-double. Carl Alexander was also worthy of recognition as he finished with 14pts, 8 rebounds, 6 assists & 3 steals in one of his best games for Teesside.
The MVP however was not in doubt, and duly awarded to Lions Captain Theo Turner for his 34pt, 16 rebound haul and an efficiency rating of 40!
Lions: Turner 34, Hughes 19, Alexander 14, Wylie 11
Explorers: Taylor 19, Khan 16, Nicholls 11
Lions now prepare for the trip to St Helens to play the undefeated Saints in the semi-final. The game will take place at Broadway Leisure Centre on Merseyside with a 3pm tip this Sunday.
Teesside are organising a coach to take supporters to the game and fans can email to book their place, spaces are limited. Email – sales@TeessideLions.com